Sassa missed its own deadline on grants, says Black Sash
Cape Town - The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has missed a self-imposed March 31 deadline to clear the temporary disability grant (TDG) backlog in the province, according to veteran social justice organisation Black Sash.
Black Sash national director Lynette Maart said: “Sassa has made good progress towards resolving the temporary disability grant issue, but has not cleared the entire backlog.
“The Black Sash community monitoring in the Western Cape revealed that the medical assessments of several temporary disability grant applicants is only scheduled after the March 31 deadline.
“Delays in the reassessment process leaves some individuals and households vulnerable, without income and food. Sassa must honour its commitment and immediately clear the remaining backlog,” said Maart.
Social development standing committee chairperson Gillion Bosman (DA) had earlier said he was expecting the close-out report on the TDGs from Sassa by the end of this week.
Bosman said that by March 23, 10 741 applications still needed to be processed, but Sassa had said they would be able to beat the deadline.
He said said the concern was that while Sassa has said 18 896 applications for TDGs have been completed and processed on the system, they had not specified whether this number included the social relief of distress (SRD) grant of R500, which was to be paid out to people still waiting on their TDGs.
“We do not know whether those processed have been approved or declined, and if rejected, on what basis?” Bosman said. “We remain concerned at the 5 014 missing recipients who are noted as unaccounted for by Sassa. These recipients did not visit Sassa offices to renew their lapsed TDGs, and we are not aware of the steps taken by the agency to engage these clients.”
Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez said she had met with Sassa officials on March 29 regarding theTDGs, and was also concerned about whether the TDG beneficiaries had been assessed before Sassa’s March 31 deadline.
Fernandez said: “I have written to Sassa requesting what measures the entity has put in place to ensure that all lapsed TDG beneficiaries are assessed and paid beyond March 31.”
Answering a written question from the ANC’s provincial social development spokesperson, Gladys Bakubaku-Vos about what her department had done to assist in clearing the backlog, Fernandez said: “The department also assisted in helping Sassa engage the City for additional resources, to help mitigate the challenges Sassa faced with regards to addressing the backlog.”
The provincial department also held bi-weekly meetings with Sassa to receive updates on the progress being made in eradicating the backlog.
At the beginning of March, Sassa’s provincial grants administration general manager Michael Nhlangothi told the standing committee that the agency had come up with a 10-point plan to mitigate the challenges created by the lapsed TDGs.